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The pain and the triumph of freedom

Date Released: Mon, 2 July 2012 09:59 +0200

 “Expect to be taken on an emotional and poetic dance theatre journey,” says Standard Bank Young Artist award winner for Dance Bailey Snyman about his latest contemporary dance work.

Rhodes University alumnus and acclaimed dancer/choreographer is cutting close to the bone with Moffie, based on Andre-Carl van der Merwe’s novel of the same name.

“It has always been my goal as a dancer and choreographer to bring stories to light that can potentially change the perceptions of the viewing audience through presenting topical and sometimes controversial stories on the stage. Moffie is one such story and I believe is of critical importance,” he says.

Using the themes of the original novel, the production will examine the experiences of men and women in the military, incorporating Snyman’s research into ‘medical’ torture, where gay conscripts in the South African Defence Force under apartheid were forced to have their homosexuality ‘cured’ by undergoing electroshock therapy and botched sex changes.   

Andre-Carl van der Merwe has been very supportive of the project, allowing Snyman free rein to reinterpret and re-imagine his novel. “I am humbled that he believes in my ability as a dance theatre practitioner to allow me to run freely with my creative impulses,” says Snyman.

As a proud Rhodes Drama graduate, he often refers to the far-reaching influence of working with Gary Gordon, “who was my professor and is still a close friend and mentor,” and Juanita Finestone-Praeg “also a great friend and creative inspiration”.  

After graduating with a masters in Choreography, Contemporary Performance Studies and Dance History from Rhodes University, he spent four years as a member of the First Physical Theatre Company.

“My time at Rhodes and with the First Physical Theatre focused on the internal emotional and expressive landscape of the dance performer and that has continued to inform my work,” he says. He says winning the Young Artist Award is a great personal achievement. “I think that there has always been a misconception that in order to be successful at an art-form one needs to practice from an early age. Winning this award shows that with hard work, passion and determination, major artistic goals and credibility can be achieved.”

He says that it has also allowed him to expand his audience and expose them to the work of the Matchbox Theatre Collective, a company he co-founded in 2006 with his long-time friend and fellow Rhodes graduate, Nicola Haskins. 

The two will be performing in Moffie on the main programme and also choreographed The Genesis Project for the South African Performing Arts Conservatory on the Fringe.

Picture by Suzie Bernstein